- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quarterback Robert Griffin III felt good about what he saw when he re-watched the video of his 14 plays in Thursday’s preseason victory over Buffalo. In addition to throwing the ball well, he’s getting comfortable with the audibles he has at his disposal at the line of scrimmage.

Griffin described a play on which he audibled from a pass to a run because of what the defense showed.

“We had a naked [bootleg] or a keeper on, and they were bringing weak-side pressure, so instead of keeping into the weak-side pressure, I just audibled to a run play,” Griffin said. “It is something that you have to get used to.”

Griffin did not audible often at Baylor. His elevated comfort level this summer results from how Redskins coaches have introduced him to the playbook and how they’re beginning to scheme for opponents.

“It’s not that you walk to the line and see a defense and you’re like, ‘I’ve got the perfect play for that defense,’ Griffin said. “It’s just certain calls that you have need to have audibles with them.

“The coaches, that’s a testament to them. It’s not that I’m the smartest guy in the world. They’ve done a good job of throwing the whole offense at me, and now that we’re starting to game-plan, they can kind of break it down and say, ‘Well, all right, if you get this specific look, you can audible to this play.’”

When this coaching staff first arrived in 2010, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan stated his preference to use audibles as little as possible.

“I don’t like O-linemen sitting and waiting at the line, looking,” Shanahan said in August 2010. “I want to get off, come up and have a tempo, have guys get off the ball and play fast. I don’t mind if we’ve got a bad play. Throw it in the flat and we’ll get a 3-yard gain. If he makes [the defender] miss, we’ve got a big play.”

Two years ago, Donovan McNabb had the freedom to audible out of certain running plays and on third-down situations when the pass protection call did not match up favorably with what the defense was showing.

That Griffin already has some command of those decisions is an auspicious measure of his development as a pro quarterback.

Rocca ‘toying’ with new punt

After five NFL seasons, Sav Rocca is still looking for new ways to get the most out of his punts. He’s experimenting this summer with a sideways-end-over-end punt designed to roll forward and diagonally toward the sideline.

He used it once in eight punts during last Thursday’s preseason opener against Buffalo.

“It was OK,” Rocca said. “I wanted to get it a little bit deeper, but it rolled 10 yards. That is something we might be able to use, as well.”

Rocca is aware of “a couple” other punters who have experimented with this type of punt, but he’s unsure if any have used it in a game yet.

If kicked properly, the ball spins end over end, clockwise, and it darts toward the sideline when it hits the ground. He’d use it only when punting a relatively short distance, he said.

There’s a significant risk involved, though, because the drop is a bit awkward.

“It is a lot tougher because if you don’t hit the ball right in the right spot, you can either get too much side spin and no distance, or if you hit the ball too far in the middle, it will go straight,” Rocca said.

At age 38, Rocca is five years into his second career following a storied 14-year career playing Australian rules football. He learned to punt an NFL football to continue to earn a living, and the process continues.

“We’re toying with it,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Injury update

• Left tackle Trent Williams (bone bruise, left foot), right guard Chris Chester (sprained left ankle) and left guard Maurice Hurt (left knee tendon) were limited during Wednesday’s practice.

“With Trent and Maurice, we kept them out probably the last 15 minutes,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “Chester, as well. Overall they got more reps than I thought they would today.”

• Running back Roy Helu, Jr. likely will not play against the Bears because of his left Achilles tendinitis.

“Anytime you’ve got a sore Achilles a couple days before the game, without getting a lot of reps, it makes more sense to get him ready for Indy and the last preseason game [against Tampa Bay] depending on how sore it is,” Shanahan said.

• Outside linebacker Markus White left practice with a ribs/back injury. Shanahan said it is not serious.

• Rich Campbell can be reached at rcampbell@washingtontimes.com.

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